yoga: out of control or what?

May 5, 2010 by

Sick of the yoga hype? Get your "fuck yoga" flip flops at fuckyoga.com

Oooh, I love it when Gawker turns it’s sharp sarcastic lens on yoga culture. Yesterday, Gawker posed the question (and then answered it), “Is yoga out of control?” They offered plenty of examples of this out-of-controlness:

Laughter yoga. Nazi yoga. Donation yoga with Dave Matthews playing in the background Hippie yoga. Celebrity yoga. Charity yoga. Yoga books. Yoga while eating. Yoga on the road. Yoga in the park. Yoga as a nontraditional workout for athletes in traditional sports

Perhaps yoga’s fatal flaw was that everyone thought it was something new. Yoga was supposed to be the anti-workout; the anti-gym; the spiritual, holistic, ancient, anti-body-obsessive version of exercise. After years of media scrutiny, it turns out yoga is the anti-interesting.

“Anti-interesting?” Yeouch! But I have to admit that there is some truth in this. Do we need to hear about another yoga hybrid? Another celebrity who achieved her post-baby hot bod with a regular yoga workout? Another eco yoga product? While Gawker finds the mainstream media coverage (and yoga people in general) boring and excessive, my issues are that it trivializes and misrepresents yoga. However, I admit, I also find it fascinating and can’t stop myself from commenting on it.

In response to this Gawker piece, Social Workout asked “Has yoga jumped the shark?” (meaning, is yoga’s popularity about to start declining). My feeling is that this decline started a year or two ago when the world brought us Playboy Yoga. The positive aspects of this decline is that yoga will come back to basics, and the true practitioners will continue unscathed. The sincere and committed teachers, those who see yoga as a practice and not another skill to add to their fitness toolbox, will persevere. And yoga itself – even fuck yoga founder, Barnaby Harris, acknowledges that “yoga has survived for thousands of years and will survive for thousands more.”

13 Comments

  1. Linda-Sama

    saw the article, loved it AND the comments.

    the story articulates my extreme distaste for one more celeb-yogi story….I really don’t care whether Lindsay Lohan (or whoever is the current celebrity flavor of the month) was seen getting a tattoo of Ganesha while wearing her Lulus and signing a contract to be the next Manduka mat spokesmodel.

    and the next person who says “oooh, but whatever brings people to yoga….it’s all good….don’t be such a hater….” — stand back because I’m getting ready to projectile vomit.

  2. You go, Linda. I liked the article too. What we call “yoga” in this culture IS out of control, and spinning further and further away from its original intention. This is a practice with the potential to free us from our cultural neuroses—image, greed, etc.—that has, at least popularly, become another way to promote these things. Yoga itself, of course, is still Yoga and still has that potential. And there are many teachers out there who have stayed true to Yoga. My hope is that, as girlwarrior says above, the Yoga that survives the boom will return to its original intention.

  3. I know…Tai Chi could use a snappy, sexy update. Hey guys, let’s take Tai Chi to the Olympics! Get the cutest little wrap top for just $75! Hot, naked Tai Chi! Tai Chi Moms! Get kicked out of your Tai Chi class by Madonna!

    (Maybe the entrepreneurs just need some new suggestions…)

    • Good point, Brenda. Which brings up the inevitable question, would Yoga rather be Tai Chi? Yaawwnnnn…

      Just kidding. One of my best friends loves Tai Chi like I love Yoga. But it’s true you don’t see a lot of articles about “Naked Tai Chi” or “Has Tai Chi gone too far?”

      Bob Weisenberg
      http://YogaDemystfied.com

  4. What are the chances? I click at random on “Yoga books” above, and I get an article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel which begins:

    “You don’t have to look much farther than Milwaukee’s Oriental Theatre, with its assortment of Buddhas, elephants, peacocks and miscellaneous oddities, to recognize the giddy mix of fascination and confusion with which Americans once regarded all things Asian.”

    The Oriental is my favorite movie theatre. I started going there in the early ’70s. The description is accurate. You just can’t believe it when you walk in.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  5. Is yoga hype out of control?
    I’d say definitely…

  6. Linda-Sama

    if ever there was a scathing indictment of “Americanized” yoga and Deepak Chopra, I haven’t found any….

    http://www.sandeepweb.com/2010/05/04/the-yoga-disease/

  7. I am also tired of the yoga hype. But not enough to buy “fuck yoga” flip flops.

  8. Maybe I should start a company with my new Yoga saying:

    “If You Can’t Beat the Universe, Join It”

    I’m a veteran entrepreneur. I’ll go head–to-head with “Fuck Yoga” and beat their asses (but of course all the while practicing complete non-attachment to the result.)

    What do you think?

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  9. Oh, thanks for the link! I found the article to be quite good-natured actually and kind of amusing. And the comments were also fabulously low-key and seemed to see the sense of humour in it all.

    Which makes me conclude that when yoga-aficionados can take the flack and just get on with loving our yoga (and even throw it back) – then obviously the yoga is working.

    3 cheers for not taking life (or yoga) too seriously. And Brenda, I’d get out there and patent those Tai-Chi’s (and buy up all the website names) if I were you! It could be the next big thing!
    :D :D :D

  10. yikes. i both want more people (everyone?) to do yoga and also dont necessarily mind if they start for the “wrong” reasons. things starting off with yoga usually turn out alright. it still feels icky, though, and i agree that im uncomfortable with their litany against my precious yoga. dunno.

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